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瓦尔登湖:经济篇6

2006-07-28 18:20

  Let us consider for a moment what most of the trouble and anxiety which I have referred to is about, and how much it is necessary that we be troubled, or at least careful.  It would be some advantage to live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst of an outward civilization, if only to learn what are the gross necessaries of life and what methods have been taken to obtain them; or even to look over the old day-books of the merchants, to see what it was that men most commonly bought at the stores, what they stored, that is, what are the grossest groceries.  For the improvements of ages have had but little influence on the essential laws of man's existence; as our skeletons, probably, are not to be distinguished from those of our ancestors.

  By the words, necessary of life, I mean whatever, of all that man obtains by his own exertions, has been from the first, or from long use has become, so important to human life that few, if any,whether from savageness, or poverty, or philosophy, ever attempt to do without it.  To many creatures there is in this sense but one necessary of life, Food.  To the bison of the prairie it is a few inches of palatable grass, with water to drink; unless he seeks the Shelter of the forest or the mountain's shadow.  None of the brute creation requires more than Food and Shelter.  The necessaries of life for man in this climate may, accurately enough, be distributed under the several heads of Food, Shelter, Clothing, and Fuel; for not till we have secured these are we prepared to entertain the true problems of life with freedom and a prospect of success.  Man has invented, not only houses, but clothes and cooked food; and possibly from the accidental discovery of the warmth of fire, and the consequent use of it, at first a luxury, arose the present necessity to sit by it.  We observe cats and dogs acquiring the same second nature.  By proper Shelter and Clothing we legitimately retain our own internal heat; but with an excess of these, or of Fuel, that is,with an external heat greater than our own internal, may not cookery properly be said to begin?  Darwin, the naturalist, says of the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, that while his own party, who were well clothed and sitting close to a fire, were far from too warm,these naked savages, who were farther off, were observed, to his great surprise, "to be streaming with perspiration at undergoing such a roasting."  So, we are told, the New Hollander goes naked with impunity, while the European shivers in his clothes.  Is it impossible to combine the hardiness of these savages with the intellectualness of the civilized man?  According to Liebig, man's body is a stove, and food the fuel which keeps up the internal combustion in the lungs.  In cold weather we eat more, in warm less. The animal heat is the result of a slow combustion, and disease and death take place when this is too rapid; or for want of fuel, or from some defect in the draught, the fire goes out.  Of course the vital heat is not to be confounded with fire; but so much for analogy.  It appears, therefore, from the above list, that the expression, animal life, is nearly synonymous with the expression,animal heat; for while Food may be regarded as the Fuel which keeps up the fire within us —— and Fuel serves only to prepare that Food or to increase the warmth of our bodies by addition from without ——Shelter and Clothing also serve only to retain the heat thus generated and absorbed.

  The grand necessity, then, for our bodies, is to keep warm, to keep the vital heat in us.  What pains we accordingly take, not only with our Food, and Clothing, and Shelter, but with our beds, which are our night-clothes, robbing the nests and breasts of birds to prepare this shelter within a shelter, as the mole has its bed of grass and leaves at the end of its burrow!  The poor man is wont to complain that this is a cold world; and to cold, no less physical than social, we refer directly a great part of our ails.  The summer, in some climates, makes possible to man a sort of Elysian life.  Fuel, except to cook his Food, is then unnecessary; the sun is his fire, and many of the fruits are sufficiently cooked by its rays; while Food generally is more various, and more easily obtained, and Clothing and Shelter are wholly or half unnecessary. At the present day, and in this country, as I find by my own experience, a few implements, a knife, an axe, a spade, a wheelbarrow, etc., and for the studious, lamplight, stationery, and access to a few books, rank next to necessaries, and can all be obtained at a trifling cost.  Yet some, not wise, go to the other side of the globe, to barbarous and unhealthy regions, and devote themselves to trade for ten or twenty years, in order that they may live —— that is, keep comfortably warm —— and die in New England at last.  The luxuriously rich are not simply kept comfortably warm,but unnaturally hot; as I implied before, they are cooked, of course a la mode.

  让我们思考一下,我前面所说的大多数人的忧虑和烦恼又是些什么,其中有多少是必须忧虑的,至少是值得小心对待的呢?虽然生活在外表的文明中,我们若能过一过原始性的、新开辟的垦区生活还是有益处的,即使仅仅为了明白生活必需品大致是些什么,及如何才能得到这些必需品,甚至翻一翻商店里的古老的流水账,看看商店里经常出售些什么,又存积哪些货物,就是看看最杂的杂货究竟是一些什么也好。时代虽在演进,对人类生存的基本原则却还没有发生多少影响:好比我们的骨骼,跟我们的祖先的骨骼,大约是区别不出来的。

  所谓生活必需品,在我的意思中,是指一切人用了自己的精力收获得来的那种物品:或是它开始就显得很重要,或是由于长久的习惯,因此对于人生具有了这样的重要性,即使有人尝试着不要它,其人数也是很少的,他们或者是由于野蛮,或是出于穷困,或者只是为了一种哲学的缘故,才这么做的。对于许多人,具有这样的意义的生活必需品只有一种,即食物。原野上的牛只需要几英寸长的可咀嚼的青草和一些冷水;除非加上了它们要寻求的森林或山荫的遮蔽。野兽的生存都只需要食物和荫蔽之处。但人类,在天时中,其生活之必需品可分为:食物、住宅、衣服和燃料;除非获有这些,我们是无法自由地面对真正的人生问题的,更无法展望成就了。人不仅发明了屋子,还发明了衣服,煮熟了食物;可能是偶然发现了火焰的热度,后来利用了它,起先它还是奢侈品哩,而到目前,烤火取暖也是必需品了。我们看到猫狗也同样地获得了这个第二天性。住得合适,穿得合适,就能合理地保持体内的热度,若住得和穿得太热的话,或烤火烤得太热时,外边的热度高于体内的热度,岂不是说在烘烤人肉了吗?自然科学家达尔文说起火地岛的居民,当他自己一伙人穿着衣服还烤火,尚且不觉得热,那时裸体的野蛮人站得很远,却使人看到了大为吃惊,他们“被火焰烘烤得竟然汗流浃背了”。同样,据说新荷兰人赤裸身体而泰然自若地跑来跑去,欧洲人穿了衣服还颤抖呢。这些野蛮人的坚强和文明人的睿智难道不能够相提并论吗?按照李比希的说法,人体是一只炉子,食物是保持肺部内燃的燃料。冷天我们吃得多,热天少。动物的体温是缓慢内燃的结果,而疾病和死亡则是在内燃得太旺盛的时候发生的;或者因为燃料没有了,或者因为通风装置出了毛病,火焰便会熄灭。自然,我们不能把生命的体温与火焰混为一谈,我们的譬喻就到此为止。所以,从上面的陈述来看,动物的生命这一个词语可以跟动物的体温作为同义语用:食物,被作为内燃的燃料,——煮熟食物的也是燃料,煮熟的食物自外吞入体内,也是为增加我们体内热量的,——此外,住所和衣服,也是为了保持这样地产生和吸收的热量的。

  所以,对人体而言,最大的必需品是取暖,保持我们的养身的热量。我们是何等地辛苦,不但为了食物、衣着、住所,还为了我们的床铺——那些夜晚的衣服而辛苦着,从飞鸟巢里和飞鸟的胸脯上,我们掠夺羽毛,做成住所中的住所,就像鼹鼠住在地窟尽头草叶的床中一样!可怜人常常叫苦,说这是一个冰冷的世界;身体上的病同社会上的病一样,我们大都归罪于寒冷。在若干地区,夏天给人以乐园似的生活。在那里除了煮饭的燃料之外,别的燃料都不需要;太阳是他的火焰,太阳的光线煮熟了果实;大体说来,食物的种类既多,而且又容易到手,衣服和住宅是完全用不到的,或者说有一半是用不到的。在目前时代,在我们国内,根据我自己的经验,我觉得只要有少数工具就足够生活了,一把刀,一柄斧头,一把铲子,一辆手推车,如此而已,对于勤学的人,还要灯火和文具,再加上儿本书,这些已是次要的必需品,只要少数费用就能购得。然而有些人就太不聪明,跑到另一个半球上,跑到蛮荒的、不卫生的区域里,做了十年二十年生意,为了使他们活着,——就是说,为了使他们能舒适而温暖——,最后回到新英格兰来,还是死了。奢侈的人不单舒适了温暖了,而且热得不自然;我已经在前面说过,他们是被烘烤的,自然是很时髦地被

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